The Stabilisation and Association Process in the Balkans: Overloaded Agenda and Weak Incentives?
Title: The Stabilisation and Association Process in the Balkans: Overloaded Agenda and Weak Incentives?
Author: ELBASANI, Arolda
Series/Report no.: EUI SPS; 2008/03
Following more than one decade of violent and uncertain transitions in the Balkans, the EU has envisaged a new strategy comprising the perspective of membership for all the countries in the region. The so-called Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) has become a word of faith loaded with high expectations for change. This paper seeks to analyze the potential of the SAP to foster promised transformation in the region. The paper proceeds in three parts. First, it elaborates on different forms of post-cold war interventions in the region; Second, it outlines the main instruments of the SAP. Third, it delves into the innovative features of the SAP compared to the previous enlargement framework and analyses the implications of these innovations. The paper suggests that the SAP is an undisputed progress compared to the EU previous strategies in the region to the extent it has for the first time embraced the promise of membership and outlined the procedures of accession for all the countries left out of the previous enlargement. Yet, the analysis puts forward that the SAP suffers from the overloaded and not easily reconcilable double agenda including both stabilisation and association objectives. In addition, the SAP commitment to membership is rather vague compared to the previous framework of enlargement. Overall, those features might emasculate the transformative power of the EU enlargement strategy in the region since extensive conditionalities correspond to merely weaker incentives. Moreover, the ambiguity of membership inherent in the SAP, leaves it to the dynamics within the EU to mould the speed and the tone of the eventual enlargement. It cannot certainly be taken for granted as long as the EU suffers from the enlargement fatique and member countries keep resisting further enlargement.
Subject: EU Enlargement; Stabilisation and Association Process; Balkans; Post- communism
Type of Access: openAccess